You Need to Speak Up

10:37 AM


I do a lot of traveling now that my loved ones live hours away from me. To avoid boredom, I listen to the radio. At age almost-21, I finally can recognize all the most popular songs. See, freshman Bailey? I told you we'd get far.

It occurred to me during one road trip that guys and girls sing different fight songs -- the songs where they stand up, speak out, and want the world to back off from criticizing them. Guys like to sing about doing their own thing. Girls like to sing about being heard.

Say what you wanna say,
And let the words fall out.
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say,
And let the words fall out.
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave.
b r a v e  || s a r a  b a r e i l l e s

You know, I've never been one to struggle with saying what I want to say. Shocking, right? I'm an advocate and a reformer. I like to shake things up. I like to say it how it is. I'm not as blunt as other girls, true, and when I am blunt, it usually comes across snotty, and I'm not always a fan of confrontation except when it comes to super close people. I just value honesty, authenticity, and reality. 

It's the only way to get out of the status quo and into something better.

I keep bumping into girls who feel the need to maintain the status quo at their own expense. They hate conflict. They hate confrontation. They hate saying the words boiling uncomfortably inside their gut. They're strong girls, so they hold things inside. They think that bearing other people's burdens means letting people walk all over them. 

That's good in theory, but it's just not good. It's a volcano ready to explode. 

Like how a single word
Can make a heart open,
I might only have one match,
But I can make an explosion.

And all those things I didn't say,
Wrecking balls inside my brain,
I will scream them loud tonight.
Can you hear my voice this time?
f i g h t  s o n g  || r a c h e l  p l a t t e n

I was chatting with my counselor about this. He told me that the quiet peacemaker suffers the most in a bad relationship. Avoiding conflict, giving them their way, and swallowing down negative emotions sounds good in the short run, but ladies, it does not work, it never has worked, and it never will work. 

Why is this a predominantly female problem? I'm no psychologist, but I think most women are inherently nurturers. We're relationship-focused and sensitive to problems and emotions. Women can be mothers, for Pete's sake -- only women experience giving up their body, time, and a good chunk of their youth for the sake of another human. It's ingrained in us, at least more so than men in most cases, to curb our actions, sacrifice our bodies, and adjust our behavior for someone else. 

What women cannot sacrifice so easily are her emotions, opinions, and insight. When a husband ignores his wife's opinion, when a friend tramples on a girl's thoughts, when parents make light of their teen daughter's emotions, the spark hits the match. Hence the sassy fight songs playing on the radio, and all the miserable, troubled women wanting badly to be heard, understood, and loved all the same.

All my life
I've tried
To make everybody happy while I
Just hurt
And hide
Waitin' for someone to tell me it's my turn
To decide.
k i n g  o f  a n y t h i n g  || s a r a  b a r e i l l e s

Women tend to misunderstand what it means to bear another's burdens. It does not mean tolerating repeated, intentional sins against yourself with no consequences for the perpetrator. It has nothing to do with making anybody, much less everybody, happy. 

Bearing another's burdens means looking out for the best interest of your loved ones. Their best interest is their sanctification. This often means saying, "Wow, that was rude. Please don't say that again." It means sharing your true feelings: "It hurts me when you do that." It means problem solving: "How can we make this better?" It means getting them to think about their own thoughts and emotions: "Why do you feel the need to say this? Are you struggling in this area? How can I pray for you?"

Also, as a more dominant, confrontational, decisive person myself, I can say this with confidence: your bossy, rude, insensitive, overbearing friends, family members, and significant others need the quiet peacemakers in their lives to stand up for themselves. They need you to speak up. When a domineering person gets her way all the time, her inappropriate leadership gets reinforced. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

We bossy people need the sensitivity of the peacemakers to teach us sensitivity, tolerance, affection, and sacrifice. My younger sister pointed out to me that she loves how my peacemaker boyfriend isn't afraid to call me out when I'm being a jerk. That got me thinking how critical it's been in my life to be in a relationship where nothing flies. Tantrums don't fly. Rudeness doesn't fly. Pushiness doesn't fly. 

I still feel 100% comfortable messing up in front of him, but when I do mess up, it's a construction zone full of grace and hard work. That kind of sharpening iron has rubbed off many of my rough edges -- thanks to a peacemaker who decided to love me instead of stay in his own comfort zone.

I encourage you quieter people to speak up with love -- for your own sake and for the sake of the slightly overbearing people in your lives. Oh, and guys? Show respect for the thoughts, opinions, and emotions of the women in your lives. Otherwise you might get a fight song belted in your face.

You're so busy makin' maps
With my name on them in all caps.
You've got the talkin' down,
Just not the listening.

And who cares if you disagree?
You are not me.
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?
k i n g  o f  a n y t h i n g  || s a r a  b a r e i l l e s

Speak up! Why do you not like speaking up? Do you speak up too much?

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6 impressions

  1. Great stuff! Well spoken, Bailey. Your mention of the word "peacemaker" reminds me of something else I've read on this very topic. You see, what you are actually describing the most here, is a peacekeeper not a peacemaker. Peacekeepers keep the peace - no matter the cost, even if it's costing their own selves. Don't ruffle feathers. Don't stir the pot. Don't muddy the water. Just suck it up, buttercup, and swallow the crud to keep 'em all happy. Don't let them see you cry.

    But that isn't what God calls us to be. God told us to be peacemakers. We MAKE the peace, even if it's hard work. In fact, Scripture also says "seek peace and pursue it." Generally something being pursued isn't all that easy to catch. Peace - true peace - can be HARD. If you have something stirring you up big time on the inside, that's not peace, and its your responsibility to make peace, which may entail being blunt, honest, or raw about your own pain, struggle, or anger against someone or something. Like deep cleaning, sometimes making peace has to get really messy before it gets better. But ultimately, peacemaking gets to the heart of an issue and seeks to work it out so everyone involved is heard, understood, and the misunderstandings and/or wrongdoings have been rectified.

    Peacekeeping is a self-seeking, self-sufficient and self-serving false peace that generally builds walls of bitterness and hurt.

    Peacemaking is a godly, tough, but truthful way to real peace that breaks down the walls and brings an awareness of God's grace.

    May we strive for the latter.

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    1. Wow. That's so true and so good! I never thought about that distinction.

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  2. This post made me think of two things:

    1) When I was taking driver's training, my instructor told me, "Don't be afraid to share your opinions. You have a lot of good things to say."... That has always stuck with me.

    2) I recently got gently called-out by a friend for... not being willing to deal with conflict - for swallowing my emotions at times and ignoring what I know needs to be said, for fear of causing waves... I'm learning, relearning, and finding my way through dealing with conflict... Ignoring it feels safe, but it isn't always the best - for me, or others.. I'm learning to know when to speak... that it's not selfish to say when something is bothering me.

    *Smiles* Thank you for making me think.

    ~ZA

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    1. It sounds like you've got a great support group of people to help you learn to speak up. When I was younger, especially, I was ridiculously shy, awkward, and unwilling to share my opinion. My best friend was the one who helped me open up and start sharing my basic opinions/feelings...like, "Hey, I'm about to die of thirst. Could I please have some water?" :)

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  3. I don't like speaking up because I'm scared of rejection and I don't really like conflict. Conflict is weird for me, though, because I really like discussions/arguments about philosophy and religion and sexuality and all sorts of things because I love learning and logic and I do like winning arguments. But if it's other people, then it often freaks me out. I can't just back down and solve the problem. :) I had a lady come through the drive-thru today at Dunkin' Donuts who got pretty mad at me for a decent reason (she'd been demanding, though), and I went right to peace-keeper not peace-maker (thanks Jasmine!) and it's been sort of bothering me the whole day. I guess I would say I hate conflict but I find different perspectives fascinating.

    I speak up too much when it's something that isn't important to me or when I haven't thought it through. But if it's something I really care about I usually put up a little wall to protect myself before I share. It's way easier for me to be honest about personal experiences than about how I feel about those experiences or people or, well, anything. The what happened vs. how I responded emotionally.

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    1. Oof. I feel your pain about work conflict. I think you have to be more of a peacekeeper than a peacemaker when it comes to customers. :P

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. It's interesting how easy it is to speak up about everything except what's most essentially US.

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